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List of Japanese inventions

This is a list of Japanese inventions.



Japanese karaoke display
Karaoke is a form of entertainment in which amateur singers sing along with recorded music or video using a microphone and public address system. The first karaoke machine was invented in 1971 by Japanese musician Daisuke Inoue in Kobe, Japan. After becoming popular in Japan, karaoke spread to East and Southeast Asia during the 1980s and subsequently to other parts of the world.

Film and animation

Bullet Time
Long before the emergence of a technology permitting a live-action application, bullet-time as a concept was frequently developed in cel animation. The earliest example is the shot at the end of the title sequence for the late-sixties Japanese anime series Speed Racer: as Speed leaps from the Mach Five, he freezes in mid-jump, and then the camera does an arc shot from front to sideways. The show was later an inspiration for The Matrix (1999).
Object with a basic cel-shader (also known as a toon shader) and border detection.
Cel-shaded animation
True cel-shaded animation was introduced by Sega's 3D video game, Jet Set Radio (2000), for the Sega Dreamcast.
Fictional space habitats
The earliest fictional depiction of space habitats resembling cities were the space colonies in Yoshiyuki Tomino's 1979 anime series Mobile Suit Gundam (1979).
Man with No Name
A stock character that originated with Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961), where the archetype was first portrayed by Toshiro Mifune. The archetype was adapted by Sergio Leone for his Spaghetti Western Dollars Trilogy (1964-1966), with Clint Eastwood playing the role of the "Man with No Name". It is now a common archetype in Samurai films and Western films as well as other genres.[1]
The mecha genre of science fiction was founded in Japan. The first depiction of mecha Super Robots being piloted by a user from within a cockpit was introduced in the manga and anime series Mazinger Z by Go Nagai in 1972.[2]
Post-apocalyptic steampunk
The earliest examples are Hayao Miyazaki's anime works Future Boy Conan (1978)[3] and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984).[4]
Postcyberpunk animation/film
The first postcyberpunk media work in an animated/film format was Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex in 2002. It has been called "the most interesting, sustained postcyberpunk media work in existence."[5]
Psychological horror
Hideo Nakata's Ring (1998), the first of the J-Horror Ring Trilogy, is considered the earliest psychological horror film.
Real Robot
The Real Robot mecha genre began with Yoshiyuki Tomino's anime series Mobile Suit Gundam in 1979. It was followed by many more Gundam series as well as other Real Robot anime series such as Macross.
Samurai cinema
The earliest samurai films were Senkichi Taniguchi's Jakoman and Tetsu (1949) and Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950).
Steadicam tracking shot
Though the film was produced 35 years before the invention of the Steadicam, Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950) featured a complex tracking shot that would appear to have been made by a Steadicam to modern viewers. The shot is credited to the cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa.[6]
Steampunk animation
The earliest examples of steampunk animation are Hayao Miyazaki's anime works Future Boy Conan (1978),[3] Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)[4] and Castle in the Sky (1986).[7][8]
A postmodern art form, founded by the artist Takashi Murakami, which is influenced by manga and anime.[9]
Super Robot
The Super Robot mecha genre began with Go Nagai's manga and anime series Mazinger Z in 1972.
Yakuza film
The first Yakuza film was Akira Kurosawa's Drunken Angel (1948), starring Toshiro Mifune.


Flying saucer
A manuscript illustration of the 10th-century Japanese narrative, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, depicts a round flying machine similar to a flying saucer.[10]
A pre-modern genre of Japanese literature.
Written text from the earliest illustrated handscroll (12th century) of The Tale of Genji
Historical novel
The Tale of Genji, written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu in 11th-century Japan, is regarded as the first historical novel.[11]
The Tale of Genji is also regarded as the first novel in general.[12]
Psychological novel
The Tale of Genji is also regarded as the first psychological novel.[13]
Time travel
The 8th-century tale of Urashima Tarō has been identified as the earliest example of a story involving time travel.[14]

Martial arts

A Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs.
All-Japan Judo Championships, 2007 men's final.
Judo is a modern Japanese martial art and combat sport, that originated in Japan in the late nineteenth century. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent with a grappling manoeuvre, or force an opponent to submit by joint locking the elbow or by executing a choke. The early history of judo is inseparable from its founder, Japanese polymath and educator Jigoro Kano.
It began as a common fighting system known as "ti" (or "te") among the pechin class of the Ryukyuans. There were few formal styles of ti, but rather many practitioners with their own methods. One surviving example is the Motobu-ryū school passed down from the Motobu family by Seikichi Uehara.[15] Early styles of karate are often generalized as Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te, named after the three cities from which they emerged.[16]
Developed by groups of people mainly from the Iga Province and Kōka, Shiga of Japan. Throughout history, many different schools (ryū) have taught their unique versions of ninjutsu. An example of these is the Togakure-ryū. This ryū was developed after a defeated samurai warrior called Daisuke Togakure escaped to the region of Iga. Later he came in contact with the warrior-monk Kain Doshi who taught him a new way of viewing life and the means of survival (ninjutsu).[17]
Okinawan martial arts
In the 14th century, when the three kingdoms on Okinawa (Chūzan, Hokuzan, and Nanzan) entered into a tributary relationship with the Ming Dynasty of China, Chinese Imperial envoys and other Chinese arrived, some of whom taught Chinese Chuan Fa (Kempo) to the Okinawans. The Okinawans combined Chinese Chuan Fa with the existing martial art of Te to form Tō-de (唐手 Okinawan: Tū-dī?, Tang hand), sometimes called Okinawa-te (沖縄手?).[18] By the 18th century, different types of Te had developed in three different villages - Naha, Shuri, and Tomari. The styles were named Naha-te, Shuri-te, and Tomari-te, respectively. Practitioners from these three villages went on to develop modern karate.[19]

Video games

Action role-playing game
Japanese developers, with their recent interest in the role-playing game (RPG) genre, tweaked the formula a bit to create a new brand of action RPG. The company at the forefront of this was Nihon Falcom. Dragon Slayer, released in 1984, was a simple real-time treasure grab game. However, its sequel, Xanadu, released in 1985, was a full-fledged RPG, with character stats and a large quest. What set Xanadu apart from other RPGs was its action-based combat. The next two years would see the release of two games that would further define the action/RPG genre in Japan: Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda in 1986 and Falcom's Ys in 1987. While not strictly an action/RPG since it lacks RPG elements such as experience points, The Legend of Zelda influenced later games in the action-RPG genre.[20] Zelda II also implemented an RPG-esque system with action elements, making it closer to an action-RPG than other Zeldas. Ys, on the other hand, used true RPG principles.
Active Time Battle
Hiroyuki Itō introduced the "Active Time Battle" system in Final Fantasy IV (1991),[21] where the time-keeping system does not stop.[22] Square Co., Ltd. filed a United States patent application for the ATB system on March 16, 1992, under the title "Video game apparatus, method and device for controlling same" and was awarded the patent on February 21, 1995. On the battle screen, each character has an ATB meter that gradually fills, and the player is allowed to issue a command to that character once the meter is full.[23] The fact that enemies can attack or be attacked at any time is credited with injecting urgency and excitement into the combat system.[22] The ATB system was fully developed in Final Fantasy V (1992) and continued to be used in later Final Fantasy games until Final Fantasy X-2 (2003) as well as other Square games such as Chrono Trigger (1995).
Beat 'em up
The first game to feature fist fighting was Sega's boxing game Heavyweight Champ (1976), but it was Data East's fighting game Karate Champ (1984) which popularized martial arts themed games.[24] The same year, Hong Kong cinema-inspired Kung-Fu Master laid the foundations for scrolling beat 'em ups with its simple gameplay and multiple enemies.[24][25] Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, released in 1986 in Japan, deviated from the martial arts themes of earlier games and introduced street brawling to the genre. Renegade (released the same year) added an underworld revenge plot that proved more popular with gamers than the principled combat sport of other games.[26] Renegade set the standard for future beat 'em up games as it introduced the ability to move both horizontally and vertically.[27]
Dating sim
A simulation game subgenre originating in Japan.
Fighting game
Sega's black and white boxing game Heavyweight Champ was released in 1976 as the first video game to feature fist fighting.[28] However, Data East's Karate Champ from 1984 is credited with establishing and popularizing the one-on-one fighting game genre, and went on to influence Konami's Yie Ar Kung-Fu from 1985.[29] Yie Ar Kung Fu expanded on Karate Champ by pitting the player against a variety of opponents, each with a unique appearance and fighting style.[30][31] Capcom's Street Fighter (1987) introduced the use of special moves that could only be discovered by experimenting with the game controls. Street Fighter II (1991) established the conventions of the fighting game genre and, whereas previous games allowed players to combat computer-controlled fighters, Street Fighter II allowed players to play against each other.[32]
Parallax scrolling
A special scrolling technique in computer graphics, seen first in the 1982 arcade game, Moon Patrol.[33] Pac-Land (1984) later introduced multi-layered parallax scrolling.[34][35]
Donkey Kong (1981), the first true platform game.
Platform game
Space Panic, a 1980 arcade release, is sometimes credited as the first platform game.[36] It was clearly an influence on the genre, with gameplay centered on climbing ladders between different floors, a common element in many early platform games. Donkey Kong, an arcade game created by Nintendo, released in July 1981, was the first game that allowed players to jump over obstacles and across gaps, making it the first true platformer.[37] This game also introduced Mario, an icon of the genre. Mario Bros, a platform game that offered two-player simultaneous cooperative play, laid the groundwork for other popular two-player cooperative platformers, like Fairyland Story and Bubble Bobble, which in turn influenced many of the single-screen platformers that would follow.
Postmodern videogame
Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001) is regarded as the first example of a postmodern video game.[38][39]
Psychological horror game
Silent Hill (1999) was praised for moving away survival horror games from B movie horror elements to the psychological style seen in art house or Japanese horror films,[40] due to the game's emphasis on a disturbing atmosphere rather than visceral horror.[41] The original Silent Hill is considered one of the scariest games of all time,[42] and the strong narrative from Silent Hill 2 in 2001 has made the series one of the most influential in the genre.[43] Fatal Frame from 2001 was a unique entry into the genre, as the player explores a mansion and takes photographs of ghosts in order to defeat them.[44][45]
Racing game
The first true racing game was the Namco game Pole Position in 1982. The player had AI cars to race against, and time limit to keep pushing the players to go faster. Pole Position is also the first game to be based on a real racing circuit. Pole Position introduced color graphics at a much higher resolution than earlier titles.
Rhythm game
Dance Aerobics was released in 1987, and allowed players to create music by stepping on Nintendo's Power Pad peripheral. It has been called the first rhythm-action game in retrospect,[46] although the 1996 title PaRappa the Rapper has also been deemed the first rhythm game, whose basic template forms the core of subsequent games in the genre. In 1997, Konami's Beatmania sparked an emergent market for rhythm games in Japan. The company's music division, Bemani, released a number of music games over the next several years. The most successful of these was dance mat game Dance Dance Revolution, which was also the only one to achieve large-scale success out with Japan.
Scrolling platformer
The first platform game to use scrolling graphics was Jump Bug (1981), a simple platform-shooter developed by Alpha Denshi.[47] In August 1982, Taito released Jungle King,[48] which featured scrolling jump and run sequences that had players hopping over obstacles. Namco took the scrolling platformer a step further with the 1984 release Pac-Land. Pac-Land came after the genre had a few years to develop, and was an evolution of earlier platform games, aspiring to be more than a simple game of hurdle jumping, like some of its predecessors.[49] It closely resembled later scrolling platformers like Wonder Boy and Super Mario Bros and was probably a direct influence on them. It also had multi-layered parallax scrolling.[34][35]
Stealth game
The first stealth-based videogame was Sega's 005 (1981).[50][51][52] The first commercially successful stealth game was Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear (1987), the first in the Metal Gear series. It was followed by Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1990) which significantly expanded the genre, and then Metal Gear Solid (1998) which was a mainstream success and established stealth games as a genre.
Steampunk fantasy
The earliest steampunk work set entirely in a fantasy world was Square's console role-playing game, Final Fantasy VI (1994), though aspects of steampunk can also be found in earlier Final Fantasy games.[53]
Survival horror
The survival horror video game genre began with Capcom's Resident Evil (1996), which coined the term "survival horror" and defined the genre.[54][55] The game was inspired by Capcom's earlier horror game Sweet Home (1989).[56]
Tactical role-playing game
It is generally accepted that Nintendo released and published the first tactical RPG, Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), created and developed by Intelligent Systems. Released in Japan in 1990, Fire Emblem was an archetype for the whole genre, establishing gameplay elements that are still used in tactical CRPGs today. Combining the basic console RPG concepts from games like Dragon Quest and simple turn-based strategy elements, Nintendo created a hit, which spawned many sequels and imitators.
Visual novel
An interactive fiction genre featuring mostly static graphics, usually with anime-style art, originating in Japan.


5 Whys
Sakichi Toyoda developed the concept of 5 Whys: When a problem occurs, ask 'why' five times to try to find the source of the problem, then put into place something to prevent the problem from recurring. This concept is used today as part of applying lean methodologies to solve problems, improve quality, and reduce costs.
Lean manufacturing
A generic process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS) (hence the term Toyotism is also prevalent) and identified as "Lean" only in the 1990s.[57][58] It is renowned for its focus on reduction of the original Toyota seven wastes in order to improve overall customer value, but there are varying perspectives on how this is best achieved.


Rashomon effect
The psychological effect of the subjectivity of perception on recollection, by which observers of an event are able to produce substantially different but equally plausible accounts of it. The concept was inspired by Akira Kurosawa's 1950 film Rashomon, in which a crime witnessed by four individuals is described in four mutually contradictory ways. The film was based on two short stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, "Rashōmon" (for the setting) and "In a Grove" (for the story line).

Biomedical science

Aberic acid
Discovered by Umetaro Suzuki in 1910.
Aspergillus genomes
Initially kept secret, the genome for Aspergillus oryzae, Aspergillus nidulans and Aspergillus fumigatus was released by a consortium of Japanese biotechnology companies,[59] in late 2005.[60]
B vitamin
The first B vitamin to be discovered was thiamine (vitamin B1), by Umetaro Suzuki in 1910.
Epinephrine (Adrenaline)
Japanese chemist Jokichi Takamine and his assistant Keizo Uenaka first discovered epinephrine in 1900.[61][62] In 1901 Takamine successfully isolated and purified the hormone from the adrenal glands of sheep and oxen.[63]
Methamphetamine was first synthesized from ephedrine in Japan in 1894 by chemist Nagayoshi Nagai.[64] In 1919, crystallized methamphetamine was synthesized by Akira Ogata via reduction of ephedrine using red phosphorus and iodine.
Nuclear medicine
Taro Takemi was the first to study the application of nuclear physics to medicine.
Portable electrocardiograph
Taro Takemi built the first portable electrocardiograph in 1937.
A form of diastase which results from the growth, development and nutrition of a distinct microscopic fungus known as Aspergillus oryzae. Jokichi Takamine developed the method first used for its extraction in the late 19th century.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
Thiamine was the first of the water-soluble vitamins to be described,[65] leading to the discovery of more such trace compounds essential for survival and to the notion of vitamin. It was not until 1884 that Kanehiro Takaki (1849-1920) attributed beriberi to insufficient nitrogen intake (protein deficiency). In 1910, Japanese scientist Umetaro Suzuki succeeded in extracting a water-soluble complex of micronutrients from rice bran and named it aberic acid. He published this discovery in a Japanese scientific journal.[66] The Polish biochemist Kazimierz Funk later proposed the complex be named "Vitamine" (a portmanteau of "vital amine") in 1912.[67]
Taro Takemi is known for his invention of the vectorcardiograph in 1939.
The first vitamin to be discovered was the B vitamin, thiamine (vitamin B1), by Umetaro Suzuki in 1910.

Food science

Cup noodles
Invented in 1970 by Nissin Foods.
Instant noodles
Instant noodles
Instant noodles are dried or precooked noodles fused with oil, and often sold with a packet of flavoring. Dried noodles are usually eaten after being cooked or soaked in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes, while precooked noodles can be reheated, or eaten straight from the packet. Momofuku Ando was the Taiwanese Japanese founder and chairman of Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd., and the inventor of world's first instant noodles in 1971.
Monosodium glutamate
Invented and patented by Kikunae Ikeda.[68]
Umami as a separate taste was first identified in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University while researching the strong flavor in seaweed broth.[69] He isolated monosodium glutamate as the chemical responsible and, with the help of the Ajinomoto company, began commercial distribution of MSG products.


Aitken's delta-squared process
It was first known to Seki Kōwa at the end of the 17th century and was found for the rectification of the circle, i.e. the calculation of π. It is most useful for accelerating the convergence of a sequence that is converging linearly. He used it to obtain a value for π that was correct to the 10th decimal place.
A page from Seki Kōwa's Katsuyo Sampo (1712), tabulating binomial coefficients and Bernoulli numbers
Bernoulli number
First studied by Seki Kōwa and published by him in 1712, slightly anticipating their publication in Europe by Jacob Bernoulli.[70][71][72]
In Japan, determinants were introduced to study elimination of variables in systems of higher-order algebraic equations. They used it to give short-hand representation for the resultant. The determinant as an independent function was first studied by Seki Kōwa in 1683.[73][72]
Elimination theory
In 1683 (Kai-Fukudai-no-Hō), Seki Kōwa came up with elimination theory, based on resultant.[73] To express resultant, he developed the notion of determinant.[73]
Ford circle
A typical problem, which is presented on an 1824 tablet in the Gunma Prefecture, covers the relationship of three touching circles with a common tangent. It describes the Ford circle over a century before L. R. Ford did in 1938.
Laplace expansion
After the first work by Seki Kōwa in 1683, Laplace's formula was given by two independent groups of scholars: Uima Tanaka and Tomonori Iseki (Sampo-Hakki, published in 1690), and Seki Kōwa, Kaaki Takebe and Katahiro Takebe (Taisei-Sankei, written at least before 1710).
Newton-Raphson method
Horner's method, though earlier completed by Chinese mathematicians, was not transmitted to Japan in its final form. So Seki Kōwa had to work it out by himself independently. In 1683, he suggested an improvement to Horner's method: to omit higher order terms after some iterations. This happens to be the same as the Newton-Raphson method, predating Joseph Raphson's work in 1690.
In 1683 (Kai-Fukudai-no-Hō), Seki Kōwa came up with elimination theory, based on resultant. To express resultant, he developed the notion of determinant.[73]
Japanese geometrical puzzles in Euclidean geometry on wooden tablets created during the Edo period (1603–1867) by members of all social classes. The Dutch Japanologist Isaac Titsingh first introduced sangaku to the West when he returned to Europe in the late 1790s after more than twenty years in the Far East.[74]


Hideki Yukawa first predicted K-capture, in which a low energy hydrogen electron could be absorbed by the nucleus.
In 1949, Hideki Yukawa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for predicting the existence of the meson. He called the particle the meson (from mesos, Greek for intermediate) because its mass was between that of the electron and proton.
In 1949, Hideki Yukawa also received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction of the pion in 1947.
Strong force
In 1935, Hideki Yukawa proposed the first significant theory of the strong force to explain how the nucleus holds together.
Yukawa interaction
Developed by Hideki Yukawa, it can be used to describe the strong nuclear force between nucleons (which are fermions), mediated by pions (which are pseudoscalar mesons). The Yukawa interaction is also used in the Standard Model to describe the coupling between the Higgs field and massless quark and electron fields.
Yukawa potential
Hideki Yukawa showed in the 1930s that such a potential arises from the exchange of a massive scalar field such as the field of the pion whose mass is m.


Automatic power loom
Sakichi Toyoda invented numerous weaving devices. His most famous invention was the automatic power loom in which he implemented the principle of Jidoka (autonomation or autonomous automation). It was the 1924 Toyoda Automatic Loom, Type G, a completely automatic high-speed loom featuring the ability to change shuttles without stopping and dozens of other innovations. At the time it was the world's most advanced loom, delivering a dramatic improvement in quality and a twenty-fold increase in productivity.[75]
Autonomation (autonomous automation)
Sakichi Toyoda's most famous invention was the automatic power loom in which he implemented the principle of Jidoka (autonomation or autonomous automation). The principle of Jidoka, which means that the machine stops itself when a problem occurs, became later a part of the Toyota Production System.
Chi Machine
A device created by Japanese scientist Dr. Shizuo Inoue. It holds US FDA approval as a Class 1 Medical Device Regulation #890.5660.[76] It apparently oxygenates the body via "passive aerobic exercise", which the manufacturer claims stimulates the lymphatic system and supposedly enables detoxification.
Cold fusion methods
Shunpei Yamazaki was granted patents for several cold nuclear fusion methods, including the "Electrochemical Method for Creating Nuclear Fusion", the "Plasma Method for Creating Nuclear Fusion", and an "Electrode for Use in Nuclear Fusion".[77]
Cultured pearl
Primarily the result of discoveries made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the Japanese researchers Tokishi Nishikawa and Tatsuhei Mise. What they discovered was a specific technique for inducing the creation of a round pearl within the gonad of an oyster. This technique was patented by Kokichi Mikimoto shortly thereafter, and the first harvest of rounds was produced in 1916. This discovery revolutionized the pearl industry, because it allowed pearl farmers to reliably cultivate large numbers of high-quality pearls.
Japanese typewriter
The first typewriter to be based on the Japanese writing system was invented by Kyota Sugimoto in 1929.[78]
Toho Scope is an anamorphic lens system developed in the late 1950s by Toho Studios.

Audio technology

Analog modeling synthesizer
A synthesizer that emulates the sounds of traditional analog synthesizers using digital signal processing components. The earliest was Korg's Prophecy in the mid-1990s.
Compact Disc player
Sony released the world's first CD Player, called the CDP-101,[79] in 1982, utilising a slide-out tray design for the Compact Disc.
Digital audio
Digital recording of classical and jazz music began in the early 1970s, pioneered by Japanese companies such as Denon, and was soon adopted by British companies such as the BBC and record label Decca.
Digital synthesizer
The Yamaha DX7 in 1983 was the first stand-alone all-digital synthesizer.[80] It became indispensable to many music artists of the 1980s.[81]
Digital waveguide synthesis
Developed in 1989 by Yamaha alongside Stanford University.
PCM adaptor
The Sony PCM-1600 was the first video-based 16-bit PCM recorder (using a special U-matic VCR for a transport), and continues in its 1610 and 1630 incarnations. The 1600 was one of the first systems used for mastering audio compact discs in the early 1980s by many major record labels.
Phase distortion synthesis
A synthesis method introduced in 1984 by Casio in its CZ range of synths.
Physical modelling synthesis
The first commercially available physical modelling synthesizer was Yamaha's VL-1 in 1994.[82]
In 1976, the first true music synthesizers to offer polyphony had begun to appear, in the form of the Yamaha GX1, CS-50, CS-60 and CS-80.
Portable CD player
Sony's Discman, released in 1984, was the first portable CD player.[83]
Vowel-Consonant synthesis
A type of hybrid Digital-analogue synthesis first employed by the early Casiotone keyboards in the early 1980s.
In 1979, the Walkman was introduced by Sony, in the form of the world's first portable music player.


Chūhachi Ninomiya's "Tamamushi-gata hikouki"("Jewel beetle type flyer") in 1893 is the earliest known biplane.[84]
Landing gear
Chūhachi Ninomiya's "Karasu-gata mokei hikouki" ("Crow-type model aircraft") in 1891 had three wheels as landing gear.
Pusher propeller
Invented by Chūhachi Ninomiya in 1891 as part of his "Karasu-gata mokei hikouki" ("Crow-type model aircraft"). The four-blade pusher propeller, inspired from a bamboo-copter, was driven by a rubber band. His "Tamamushi-gata hikouki"("Jewel beetle type flyer") in 1893 was also equipped with a four-blade pusher propeller.
Chūhachi Ninomiya's "Karasu-gata mokei hikouki" ("Crow-type model aircraft") in 1891 was the earliest to be equipped with a horizontal stabilizer at its tail and a vertical stabilizer at its nose.
Tailless aircraft
Chūhachi Ninomiya's "Tamamushi-gata hikouki"("Jewel beetle type flyer") in 1893 is the earliest known tailless aircraft.[84]


Credit-card-sized calculator
The first credit-card-sized calculator was the Casio Mini Card LC-78, of 1978, which could run for months of normal use on button cells.
Electric compact calculator
The Casio Computer Co., in Japan, released the Model 14-A calculator in 1957, which was the world's first all-electric compact calculator.
Graphing calculator
The first graphing calculator was the Casio fx-7000G, released in 1985. Many more Casio graphic calculators have been released since then.
Pocket calculator
The first portable calculators appeared in Japan in 1970, and were soon marketed around the world. These included the Sanyo ICC-0081 "Mini Calculator", the Canon Pocketronic, and the Sharp QT-8B "micro Compet". Sharp put in great efforts in size and power reduction and introduced in January 1971 the Sharp EL-8, also marketed as the Facit 1111, which was close to being a pocket calculator. It weighed about one pound, had a vacuum fluorescent display, and rechargeable NiCad batteries. The first truly pocket-sized electronic calculator was the Busicom LE-120A "HANDY", which was marketed early in 1971.[85] Made in Japan, this was the first calculator to use an LED display, the first hand-held calculator to use a single integrated circuit (then proclaimed as a "calculator on a chip"), and the first electronic calculator to run off replaceable batteries. Using four AA-size cells, the LE-120A measures 4.9x2.8x0.9 in (124x72x24 mm).
Solar-powered calculator
With low power consumption came the possibility of using solar cells as the power source, realised around 1978 by the Sharp EL-8026.


In 1982, Sony released the first professional camcorder, named the Betacam.
Digital camera
The first true digital camera that recorded images as a computerized file was the Fuji DS-1P, in 1988. It recorded to a 16 MB internal memory card that used a battery to keep the data in memory.
Digital single-lens reflex camera
On August 25, 1981 Sony unveiled a prototype of the first still video camera, the Sony Mavica. This camera was an analog electronic camera that featured interchangeable lenses and a SLR viewfinder. At Photokina in 1986, Nikon revealed a prototype analog electronic still SLR camera, the Nikon SVC, the first digital SLR. The prototype body shared many features with the N8008.[86] In 1999, Nikon announced the Nikon D1, the first DSLR to truly compete with, and begin to replace, film cameras in the professional photojournalism and sports photography fields. This camera was able to use current autofocus Nikkor lenses available at that time for the Nikon film series cameras, and was also able to utilize the older Nikon and similar, independent mount lenses designed for those cameras. A combination of price, speed, and image quality was the beginning of the end of 35 mm film for these markets.
Handheld electronic camera
Handheld electronic cameras, in the sense of a device meant to be carried and used like a handheld film camera, appeared in 1981 with the demonstration of the Sony Mavica (Magnetic Video Camera). This was an analog camera, in that it recorded pixel signals continuously, as videotape machines did, without converting them to discrete levels; it recorded television-like signals to a 2 × 2 inch Video Floppy. Analog electronic cameras do not appear to have reached the market until 1986 with the Canon RC-701. Canon demonstrated a prototype of this model at the 1984 Summer Olympics, printing the images in the Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper.


Chindogu is the Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that, on the face of it, seem like an ideal solution to a particular problem. However, Chindogu has a distinctive feature: anyone actually attempting to use one of these inventions would find that it causes so many new problems, or such significant social embarrassment, that effectively it has no utility whatsoever. Thus, Chindōgu are sometimes described as "unuseless" – that is, they cannot be regarded as 'useless' in an absolute sense, since they do actually solve a problem; however, in practical terms, they cannot positively be called "useful." The term "Chindogu" was coined by Kenji Kawakami. Examples of Chindogu include:

  • a combined household duster and cocktail-shaker, for the housewife who wants to reward herself as she's going along;
  • the all-day tissue dispenser, which is basically a toilet roll fixed on top of a hat, for hay fever sufferers;
  • duster slippers for cats, so they can help out with the housework;
  • the all-over plastic bathing costume, to enable people who suffer from aquaphobia to swim without coming into contact with water.

Domestic appliances

Electric rice cooker
Invented by designers at the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in the late 1940s.[87]
An automatic cooking device, invented by Mamoru Imura and patented in 2007.[88][89]


Blue laser
Following the research of Professor Isamu Akasaki's group, the first commercially viable blue laser was invented by Shuji Nakamura while working at Nichia Corporation.
Glass integrated circuit
Shunpei Yamazaki invented an integrated circuit made entirely from glass and with an 8-bit central processing unit.[77]
Indium gallium nitride
Indium gallium nitride (InGaN) is a semiconductor invented by Shuji Nakamura.
The world's first microprocessor, the Intel 4004, was designed by Masatoshi Shima of Busicom alongside Marcian Hoff and Federico Faggin.
Personal digital assistant
The first PDA is considered to be the Casio PF-3000 released in May 1983.
Plastic central processing unit
Shunpei Yamazaki invented a central processing unit made entirely from plastic.[77]
Videocassette recorder
The first machines (the VP-1100 videocassette player and the VO-1700 videocassette recorder) to use the first videocassette format, U-matic, was introduced by Sony in 1971.[90]

Game controllers

Analog stick
In 1996, Nintendo introduced the first analog thumbstick on the Nintendo 64 controller. Since then, all major video game console controllers have included analog sticks.
In 1982, Nintendo's Gunpei Yokoi elaborated on the idea of a circular pad, shrinking it and altering the points into the familiar modern "cross" design for control of on-screen characters in their Donkey Kong handheld game. It came to be known as the "D-pad".[91] The design proved to be popular for subsequent Game & Watch titles. This particular design was patented. In 1984, the Japanese company Epoch created a handheld game system called the Epoch Game Pocket Computer. It featured a D-pad, but it was not popular for its time and soon faded. Initially intended to be a compact controller for the Game & Watch handheld games alongside the prior non-connected style pad, Nintendo realized that Gunpei's design would also be appropriate for regular consoles, and Nintendo made the D-pad the standard directional control for the hugely successful Nintendo Entertainment System under the name "+Control Pad". All major video game consoles since have had a D-pad of some shape on their controllers.
Dance pad
The first dance pad was the Power Pad, a floor mat game controller for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It is a gray mat with twelve pressure-sensors embedded between two layers of flexible plastic. It was originally developed by Bandai.
Force feedback
Introduced for game controllers by Nintendo's Rumble Pak, for the Nintendo 64 controller.
Motion-sensing controller
Invented by Nintendo for the Wii, the Wii Remote is the first controller with motion-sensing capability. It was a candidate for Time's Best Invention of 2006.[92]


Alnico magnets were developed from the MKM steel invented by Tokuhichi Mishima.
KS steel
Kotaro Honda invented the KS steel (initials from Kichiei Sumitomo), which is a type of magnetic resistant steel that is three times more resistant than tungsten steel.
Magnetic steel
Kotaro Honda invented the KS steel, a type of magnetic resistant steel that is three times more resistant than tungsten steel. In 1931, Tokuhichi Mishima discovered that a strongly magnetic steel could be created by adding aluminum to non-magnetic nickel steel.
MKM steel
An alloy containing nickel and aluminum, it was invented in 1931 by the Japanese metallurgist Tokuhichi Mishima. While conducting research into the properties of nickel, Mishima discovered that a strongly magnetic steel could be created by adding aluminum to non-magnetic nickel steel.


The world's first Android DER 01 was developed by a Japanese research group, The Intelligent Robotics Lab, directed by Hiroshi Ishiguro at Osaka University, and Kokoro Co., Ltd.
Hybrid assistive limb
The HAL 5 is the first hybrid assistive limb, a powered exoskeleton suit currently in development by Tsukuba University of Japan.[93]
Landmine-clearing robot
Shigeo Hirose is involved in work with the United Nations to develop a remotely controlled robot capable of clearing landmines.[94]
Ninja robot
Invented by Shigeo Hirose, it is capable of climbing buildings and a seven-ton robot capable of climbing mountainous slopes with the aim of installing bolts in the ground so as to prevent landslides.[95]

Storage technology

Blu-ray Disc
After Shuji Nakamura's invention of practical blue laser diodes,[96] Sony started two projects applying the new diodes: UDO (Ultra Density Optical) and DVR Blue (together with Pioneer), a format of rewritable discs which would eventually become the Blu-ray Disc.[97]
Compact Disc
Sony first publicly demonstrated an optical digital audio disc in September 1976. In September 1978, they demonstrated an optical digital audio disc with a 150 minute playing time, and with specifications of 44,056 Hz sampling rate, 16-bit linear resolution, cross-interleaved error correction code, that were similar to those of the Compact Disc they introduced in 1982.[98]
Digital Audio Tape
A signal recording and playback medium developed by Sony in the mid 1980s.
The DVD optical disc format was developed by Sony alongside Philips.
Flash memory
Flash memory (both NOR and NAND types) was invented by Dr. Fujio Masuoka while working for Toshiba circa 1980.[99][100] According to Toshiba, the name "flash" was suggested by Dr. Masuoka's colleague, Mr. Shoji Ariizumi, because the erasure process of the memory contents reminded him of a flash of a camera. Dr. Masuoka presented the invention at the IEEE 1984 International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) held in San Francisco, California.
Floppy disk
A Japanese inventor, Yoshiro Nakamatsu, invented the core floppy disk technology and, in 1952, registered a Japanese patent for his [1]. He later licensed 16 patents to IBM for the creation of the floppy disk.
Heat-assisted magnetic recording
HAMR was developed by Fujitsu in 2006 so that it could achieve one terabit per square inch densities.[101]
Memory card
The first flash memory card to be released was the JEIDA memory card by the Japan Electronic Industries Development Association.
Perpendicular recording
A technology for data recording on hard disks. It was first proven advantageous in 1976 by Shun-ichi Iwasaki, then professor of Tohoku University in Japan, and first commercially implemented in 2005.
Video cassette
In 1969, Sony introduced a prototype for the first video cassette, the 3/4" (1.905 cm) composite U-matic system, which Sony introduced commercially in September 1971 after working out industry standards with other manufacturers. Sony later refined it to Broadcast Video U-matic or BVU.
Video Floppy
A video storage medium in the form of a 2" magnetic floppy disk used to store still frames of analog composite video. Video floppies were first developed by Sony in 1981 for their Mavica and later used by Panasonic and Canon for their still video cameras introduced in the late 1980s, such as the Canon Xapshot from 1988.


A Seiko quartz wristwatch using the chronograph function (movement 7T92).
Quartz wristwatch
The world's first quartz wristwatch was revealed in 1967: the prototype of the Astron revealed by Seiko in Japan, where it was in development since 1958. It was eventually released to the public in 1969.[102] The inherent accuracy and low cost of production has resulted in the proliferation of quartz clocks and watches since that time. By the 1980s quartz technology had taken over applications such as kitchen timers, alarm clocks, bank vault time locks, and time fuzes on munitions, from earlier mechanical balance wheel movements.
Quartz chronograph
Invented by Seiko in the 1970s.


Bullet train
The world's first high volume capable (initially 12 car maximum) "high-speed train" was Japan's Tōkaidō Shinkansen, that officially opened in October 1964, with construction commencing in April 1959.[103] The 0 Series Shinkansen, built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, achieved maximum passenger service speeds of 210 km/h (130 mph) on the Tokyo–Nagoya–Kyoto–Osaka route, with earlier test runs hitting top speeds in 1963 at 256 km/h.[103]
Dedicated high-speed rail lines
Japan was the first country to build dedicated railway lines for high speed travel. Because of the mountainous terrain, the existing network consisted of 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) narrow gauge lines, which generally took indirect routes and could not be adapted to higher speeds. Consequently, Japan had a greater need for new high speed lines than countries where the existing standard gauge or broad gauge rail system had more upgrade potential.
Electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission
In early 1987, Subaru launched the Justy in Tokyo with an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT) developed by Fuji Heavy Industries, which owns Subaru.[104]
Kei car
A category of small automobiles, including passenger cars, vans, and pickup trucks. They are designed to exploit local tax and insurance relaxations, and in more rural areas are exempted from the requirement to certify that adequate parking is available for the vehicle.[105][106] These standards originated in the times following the end of the Second World War, when most Japanese could not afford a full-sized car yet had enough to buy a motorcycle. To promote the growth of the car industry, as well as to offer an alternative delivery method to small business and shop owners, kei car standards were created.

Visual display units

Aperture grille
The first patented aperture grille televisions were manufactured by Sony in the late 1960s under the Trinitron brand name, which the company carried over to its line of CRT computer monitors. Subsequent designs, either licensed from Sony or manufactured after the patent's expiration, tend to use the -tron suffix, such as Mitsubishi's DiamondTron and ViewSonic's SonicTron. Today, Trinitron displays are still produced for markets such as Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan.
Flat panel display
The first flat-panel displays were the flat CRTs[107][108] used by Sony in their Watchman series (the FD-210 was introduced in 1982). One of the last flat-CRT models was the FD-120A. The CRT in these units was flat with the electron gun located roughly at right angles below the display surface thus requiring sophisticated electronics to create an undistorted picture free from effects such as keystoning.
Handheld colour television
In 1990, a color model of the Sony Watchman with an active-matrix LCD was released.
Handheld liquid crystal display television
In 1990, a color model of the Sony Watchman with an active-matrix LCD was released.
Liquid crystal display television
In 1988, Sharp Corporation introduced the first commercial LCD television, a 14" model.
Mechanical television
In the 1920s, the Japanese electrical scientist Yasujiro Niwa invented a simple device for phototelegraphic transmission through cable and later via radio, a precursor to mechanical television.
Plasma colour display
In 1992, Fujitsu introduced the world's first full-color plasma display. It was a hybrid, based upon the plasma display created at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and NHK STRL, achieving superior brightness.
Plasma television
In 1997, Pioneer released the first plasma television.
Pocket television
In 1982, Sony released the first television that could fit in a pocket: the Watchman; a pun on Walkman.


Concealed weapon
The shuriken, which originated in Japan around the 16th century, is the earliest known form of concealed weapon.
Fire balloon
A fire balloon, or balloon bomb, was an experimental weapon launched by Japan from 1944 to 1945, during World War II.
The katana originated in the Muromachi period (1392–1573) as a result of changing battle conditions requiring faster response times. The katana facilitated this by being worn with the blade facing up, which allowed the samurai to draw and cut their enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved sword of the samurai was worn with the blade facing down. The ability to draw and cut in one motion also became increasingly useful in the daily life of the samurai.[109]
The earliest known mention of a school teaching shuriken-jutsu is Ganritsu Ryu, prevalent during the 1600s. There are also earlier mentions in written records, such as the Osaka Gunki (The Military Records of Osaka), of the standard knife and short sword being thrown in battle, and Miyamoto Musashi is said to have won a duel by throwing his short sword at his opponent, killing him.

Wireless transmission

Directional antenna
The first directional or beam antenna was the Yagi antenna, invented by Hidetsugu Yagi and Shintaro Uda in 1926.
High-gain antenna
The first high-gain antenna was also the Yagi antenna in 1926.
Yagi antenna
The Yagi-Uda antenna was invented in 1926 by Shintaro Uda of Tohoku Imperial University, Sendai, Japan, with the collaboration of Hidetsugu Yagi, also of Tohoku Imperial University. Yagi published the first English-language reference on the antenna in a 1928 survey article on short wave research in Japan and it came to be associated with his name. However, Yagi always acknowledged Uda's principal contribution to the design, and the proper name for the antenna is, as above, the Yagi-Uda antenna (or array).


See also